Is a Shipping Container Home Even Viable?

It’s a hard fact to face but, sadly, the truth is that that house prices in the UK are rising; and, for many, they are becoming unaffordable. Keeping this in mind, and all the people we see using alternative methods of living, is a shipping container a truly viable option to live in? Through a dissertation from university student Owen Connolly, from the University of Westminster, we have everyone’s long unanswered questions answered, as he kindly shared his findings with the world.

Shipping Container

His Mission

Owen had 5 main objectives and 6 questions he set out to find the answers to. His objectives were to understand the current need for housing in London that could possibly be met by converted shipping containers, and research how a shipping container could be adapted for other purposes, whilst identifying the advantages and constraints they could be met with.

He aimed to explore and discuss the cost implications connected with using containers for housing, and identify any issues affecting end users, such as thermal comfort, noise and security.

He set himself the goal of answering key questions which were:

  • Is there unmet demand for low cost housing within London?
  • Is there evidence that shipping containers have been successfully adapted for other purposes?
  • What have been the general advantages and barriers faced when using shipping containers for any other use than their intended one?
  • Are there any barriers specific to converting the space for the provision of residential accommodation?
  • Does the cost of converting the space to meet key requirements of a dwelling make them a lower cost alternative to a traditional construction method?
  • Are end users satisfied with the method of construction?

Shipping Container Home

The Key Findings

Through his findings, Owen discovered many various factors in his mission to answer his questions. Firstly, several sources such as The National Housing Federation and RIBA have produced reports which previously have expressed concern about the housing crisis. Savills (2013), which is one of the world’s largest real estate companies, states that the population exceeds 8 million, which is expected to grow further by 2022.

As the population grows, so does the demand. Although there has been an increase in new builds and ‘affordable housing’ projects, the industry is still struggling with quick construction, meaning the use of adapted shipping containers could help in the problem.

Another main issue in regard to the findings, and possibly the main issue, was not only the lack of housing but the affordability of the ones already available. The average typical lower mainstream home would be a 2-bedroom flat, which costs around £280,000, and the average deposit required to secure a mortgage in the city is a little over £60,000.

Taking into consideration the average earnings in London, the security mortgage value is unrealistic, and many young earners believe their dream of buying a home is very improbable. The inability to get on the property ladder is shown in the Office of National Statistics 2014, which found that 49% of 20-24-year olds still live with their parents and the age of the average first time buyer was around 32.

Not only are the above points still extremely valid, but the size of the housing available is a huge consideration. RIBA found that 31% of those asked would not move into a new house build due to their lack of space and rooms being too small. However, it also found that 70% are willing to accept smaller spaces if a smaller price tag was attached.

The small space of the houses may be linked to the shortage of land available for the demand.

Shipping Container Home


Shipping containers are mainly used for safely transporting goods, although as time has passed they have been adapted to be common place on construction sites and provide site accommodation for offices, toilets, showers, security and storage.

Since around 2006, they have been even more popular and new adaptations include theatres, galleries, bars, studios, offices, nurseries, workshops, garages, labs and sports facilities.

The information gathered from Owen Connolly’s research and investigation after sending and receiving information from questionnaires and conducting further information supports the shipping container and its suitability for low cost housing. Not only could it help meet the need for affordable home, but they could save other factors of space, environment and the high demand. Other advantages are the speed of construction, the quicker return on investment and also reduced waste.

Shipping Containers

If you would like to know any more information regarding our uses for shipping containers, you can contact Flintham Cabins on 0208 459 6972 or get a quick quote from us online. You can also read Own Connolly’s full dissertation here.


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